Monday, November 30, 2020
Home Opinions Karnataka elections : 5 broad themes that the Congress seems to relying on to...

Karnataka elections : 5 broad themes that the Congress seems to relying on to retain power

The state of Karnataka is heading towards an election for its Legislative Assembly in the coming months. While the reigns of the state are obviously at stake, what is causing this election to be even more critical is the current political dynamics in the country. The ruling party in the state – Congress – has become a virtual non-entity in the country. Apart from a few smaller sized states in the north-east, Karnataka is the only large state in the country where it is in power. To harbor any ambitions of a political comeback, it absolutely has to do well here. On the other hand, the state is equally critical for the BJP in its quest to win a second term at the center in 2019. BJP had broken the southern citadel in 2008 by winning power in Karnataka during the state assembly elections but then it lost the same due to massive in-fighting and factionalism in the 2013 elections. If it wants to realize its ambition of increasing its seat share in New Delhi in 2019, winning back this state in the south is vital for the BJP.

With so much at stake, it is natural that both the Congress and the BJP have started early preparations for the elections. In fact for more than 6 months now, both parties have been raising the stakes and increasing their campaign pitch. In any election, it is natural to expect the opposition party to focus on the shortcomings of the government and appeal to the voters for a change. On the other hand, the incumbent government is expected to talk to the people on its “achievements” and consequently its continued plans for the state if voted back again.

However, the campaign preparation from the ruling Congress side in Karnataka has taken a very different route this time. The focus is not on the achievements of the Siddaramaiah government. Of course, there is a constant, if only notional, mention of the numerous social justice “bhagya” schemes launched and run by the government, and their consequences. However, the main focus of the ruling party has been on a few totally different issues. The goal of the preparation seems to be more towards disrupting the apple cart of the BJP and thereby hoping to come back to power, than going in for a campaign seeking a vote on the performance of the past 5 years.

We can categorise the approach of the ruling party on 5 broad “themes”.

Campaign of division

Since the past several months, the state government has been an active participant in the renewed demand for declaring the Lingayat community as a minority religion. Lingayats constitute nearly 20% of the electorate in Karnataka and undoubtedly have an overwhelming say in deciding the ruling party in every election. The leader of the Karnataka BJP, B S Yedyurappa, belongs to this community and is increasingly seen as consolidating the community vote for BJP. By stoking the fire of alleged discrimination and subjugation under the Hindu fold, the goal is to ensure that the community’s votes are split. Read this excellent piece to understand the role played by some senior political leaders of the Congress in this whole controversy. This movement is already showing some “results” for the incumbent with the Lingayat and Veershaiva (sub)community split on the demand. While the actual outcome of this movement can only be gauged in the coming months, it is quite clear that the re-ignition of this long standing demand this time is purely for political reasons.

Another potential fault-line being exploited by the ruling party in the past few months has been on the issue of Hindi vs Kannada. The trigger for this topic was the usage of Hindi messages in the Bengaluru Metro stations and coaches. The same was exploited to the hilt to project some sort of “imposition” of Hindi by the central BJP government with the Congress playing the role of the Kannada flag bearer.

Campaign of provocation

Recently, BJP leader B S Yedyurappa had some discussions with the Chief Minister of Goa regarding the sharing of the Mahadayi river water. As a result of the discussions, the CM of Goa sent a response to BSY agreeing in principle to provide drinking water to Karnataka on humanitarian grounds, while the core issues may take longer to resolve. Instead of latching on to this opportunity, the ruling government did everything to ensure the initiative died a quiet death. Not just this, it then tacitly supported a Karnataka bandh to protest the attitude of Goa in this dispute. The only reason for the complete non-action on the part of the government was the inevitable credit that BJP and its Karnataka leader was bound to get, if any kind of a settlement (even an interim one) happened. The bandh, and associated protests, ended up agitating a lot of the genuinely affected farmers and villagers of North Karnataka and the diplomatic steps initiated were naturally forgotten.

Over the past few years, a number of Hindu activists in the coastal Karnataka region have been murdered brutally. The reasons for these murders are both political and social. However, the state government has gone completely slow in the investigation of these cases. Whether it is the murder of Prashanth Poojary in 2015 or the recent murder of Deepak Rao in 2017, the near static progress of investigation has emboldened those who are committing these political murders. The net result of such inaction is the widening the religious fault-lines in an already communally sensitive region of Karnataka. Politically this is expected to create stark polarization of votes based on religion, which again could help the establishment.

Campaign of appeasement

A third approach that is distinctly visible in the run up to the elections has been that of appeasement of minorities. The most recent, and most blatant, attempt at such appeasement was the circular by the government to the police department to look into the possibility of withdrawal of cases against those accused belonging to the minority communities who have been held in cases of communal riots. Subsequently, due to sustained protests of many, the circular was withdrawn and a modified communication dropping the word “minorities” was issued. However the purpose of communicating the intent of appeasement was successfully achieved through this exercise.

The allocation of budgetary resources for minority-only schemes has increased manifold in the past 5 years in Karnataka. From a sum of around 770 crores in 2013-14, this budget has increased to more than 2200 crores in the year 2017-18, indicating a three-fold increase in just 4 years. There is no doubt doling out of exclusive schemes based solely on the religion of the target recipients is a blatant exercise at minority appeasement.

One of the state ministers recently declared, very proudly, that he was being elected continuously from his constituency due to the benevolence of the minority community.

All these clearly indicate at a planned effort to garner the votes of the minorities based on a regime of appeasement.

Campaign of carping

Recently, as part of the Parivartana yatra being held by the Karnataka BJP, the Chief Minister of UP – Sri Yogi Adityanath – visited Hubballi and gave stirring speech to the crowd gathered there. He reminded the people that Karnataka was the land of Hanuman and therefore he must be a guiding spirit for the people of this land. The ruling Congress party was however quick to term him an outsider and took exception to a North Indian talking to Kannadigas about their culture and tradition.

Similarly, whenever the BJP President Amit Shah has visited Karnataka, the ruling establishment has been relentlessly hitting back at him raking up the issues of the false cases and accusations that were hurled against him by the UPA government.

In addition, from every issue starting from funding of states for schemes to the budget for Swacch Bharat campaign, the Congress party in the state has made it a point to blame the central government for every ill affecting the performance of the state.

On another occasion when Prime Minister Modi visited Dharmasthala and later a railway inauguration event in Bidar, the Chief Minister excused himself from the event citing lack of proper invitation.

If one were to believe all this complaining, then the BJP government at the center is solely responsible for all the failures of the state government in Karnataka.

Campaign of silence

According to a recent report, Karnataka is one of the 5 states in India that is expected to have an urbanization ratio of more than 50% by 2030. Naturally, the capital city of Bengaluru will play a significant role, and bear a big burden, in this fructifying. However, the attitude of the state government towards this fast-growing city has been one of complete apathy and disregard.

The degeneration of Bengaluru city in the past 5 years is most evident in the stoic silence that the ruling establishment maintains when it talks about its “achievements”. From worsening traffic problems to increasing pollution to lack of civic amenities – the city has only seen its problems increasing. Not a single flyover or under-bridge has been completed on time. A new scheme – named TenderSURE – was launched and was touted as the panacea for all road-quality issues in the city. However, even after spending many tens of crores on some of the best roads of the city, the roads developed serious quality issues immediately after the first showers hit the city. The state government came up with an unpopular idea to build a steel bridge in the city and tried to push it through much against the wishes of the residents. In the end, it had to give in to the genuine concerns of the citizens and drop the plan.

The crowning jewel in this impressive list of non-achievements in Bengaluru was the fire display on Bellandur and Agara lakes. This ghastly incident only highlighted the utter contempt the civic authorities have for the once beautiful capital of Karnataka.

In its desperate attempt to cling on to power in Karnataka, and in the face of the obvious reality of non-achievement on the development front, the ruling party is resorting to every political, communal and social trick in the book to dent the electoral prospects of the opposition parties. More than a positive vote for itself, it seems to be banking on a division of votes amongst the opposition to retain power.

Whether it succeeds with this approach or not remains to be seen but one thing is certain – the road to power in May 2018 will be paved with a lot of dirty and unclean politics.

  Support Us  

Whether NDTV or 'The Wire', they never have to worry about funds. In name of saving democracy, they get money from various sources. We need your support to fight them. Please contribute whatever you can afford

Related Articles

Trending now

What they never told you when they said India was the worst performing emerging economy

India’s economy contracted by 23.9%. For comparison, Brazil’s GDP contracted by 11.9% and Russia’s GDP by 8%. So, did they really do better than India?

Assam closes down temporary Covid-19 care centres, gears up to reopen elementary schools as pandemic gets under control

Assam has been witnessing reduced cases of Covid-19 with recovery rate of 98 per cent and the death rate of 0.46 per cent

Shiv Sena to organise Azaan recitation competition, party leader calls it as important as ‘Maha Aarti’

Shiv Sena is to bear the cost of the event and will also reward the contest winners.

Chinese foreign ministry shares a fake image of Australian soldier murdering an Afghan child; PM Scott Morrison demands apology from Beijing

The fake image was shared in the wake of a report on war crimes committed by Australian forces deployed in Afghanistan

’Is that a water bottle?’: AAP candidate Asra Fatima’s poster for Hyderabad municipal elections has netizens in splits

In a true show of patriarchy, the women's identity of AAP candidate in GHMC polls is reduced to being a wife of party member.

Indian Idol contestant reveals how she faced opposition from conservative Muslim society as singing is ‘not allowed’

The Indian Idol contestant revealed how women in her society are looked down upon if they try to excel in any field.

Recently Popular

Wife of late Wajid Khan writes on her sufferings in an inter-faith marriage, says anti-conversion law should be nationalised

Wife of late music composer Wajid Khan wrote how her husband and his family had been forcing her to convert to Islam after their marriage

Actor Deep Sandhu disappoints Barkha Dutt after she provides platform to ‘distance himself’ from OpIndia report that he supports Khalistan

Barkha Dutt lamented after actor Deep Sidhu refused to condemn Jarnail Singh Bhindranwale and to call him terrorist on her YouTube channel

SFJ ads appear on YouTube offering $10m support for farmers, in return, wants Sikhs to join ‘Khalistan movement’: Details

Amid ongoing farmers’ protests in Punjab, Haryana, and Delhi, it is evident that Khalistani supporters have hijacked the protests and now, they are running ads on YouTube

Indian man proposes to his Australian girlfriend during Ind vs Aus cricket match, here is what happened next

While India's performance has been below par, netizens found happiness in the unusual proposal that became the highlight of the match.

‘Will not say Jai Hind, will teach lesson to Modi like we taught Indira’: Khalistani protester in presence of AAP MLA Amanatullah Khan

Sikh protester threatens to teach Modi a lesson in the save way they taught Indira Gandhi in the presence of AAP MLA Amanatullah Khan

Who is the man in farmer protest video, lying about ‘govt snatching farmland’: Profile of an actor and Khalistan supporter

Khalistan supporter Punjabi actor Deep Sidhu has been seen spreading the lie that govt will snatch farmer's land using the new farm laws

Private procurements from Adnai group helped eliminate middlemen and generate more income, reveals apple farmers from Himachal Pradesh

Apple Orchard manager Manjeet Singh Dhillon informed that Adani group had been purchasing apples from farmers since 2006.

Eight months after cutting water supply of migrants to drive them away in middle of pandemic, Arvind Kejriwal govt offers free water to protesting...

Delhi Jal Board VP and AAP MLA Raghav Chadha himself went to Burari to ensure water tankers are available for protesting farmers

‘Shaheen Bagh returns’: Netizens react as protesting ‘farmers’ served biryani at Ghazipur in New Delhi

Biryani at the ongoing farmers' protest brings back memories of the 'organic' Shaheen Bagh protests

Farmer group bats for ‘middlemen’, hails them as ‘service providers’ while scare-mongering about reforms in agriculture sector

Protesting farmers say that they are happy to pay commission to middlemen, claims new farm laws are not needed for their protection

Protests against farm laws are based on rumours and misinformation: PM Modi punctures holes in the propaganda surrounding farm laws

PM Modi noted, "The government is consistently addressing the fears and queries of farmers who are anxious about the government's decision."

Not ‘just a municipal election’, a defeat of TRS in the Hyderabad Municipal Elections will alter the political discourse of the state

Not just top BJP leaders, top TRS leaders are also campaigning hard for the GHMC elections, making it more than just a municipal election

Former PMO official from UPA era gets excited at ‘New Zealand MP supporting farmers,’ except that no MP from New Zealand supported

The former advisor to Manmohan Singh shared a Tweet by Canadian politician to claim that a 'New Zealand' MP is supporting the Punjab farmers' protest

Bijnor: Youth murdered because his brother had run away with a girl, case filed against the girl’s father Asgar and her brothers

Shivan murdered by Asgar and his sons because he was supporting his brother Sagar, who was jailed for having affair with Asgar's daughter

Odisha: BJD MLA expelled from party for links with ‘vigilance raid’ IFS officer and his son, accused of ‘anti-people activities’

The BJD MLA's daughter was scheduled to marry the corruption accused IFS officer's son in December.

What they never told you when they said India was the worst performing emerging economy

India’s economy contracted by 23.9%. For comparison, Brazil’s GDP contracted by 11.9% and Russia’s GDP by 8%. So, did they really do better than India?

Connect with us

245,563FansLike
491,178FollowersFollow
20,200SubscribersSubscribe